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Aaron TraversArchitectural Portfolio
University of Colorados Mountain Research StationUniversity of Colorado Boulder
Instructor Rob PyattWinner of the AIA Sudent Galas Best in Studio 3 Prize 2012
Nevin Platt Middle Schools Solar HearthUniversity of Colorado Boulder
Instructor Julie Herdt
Spring + Fall 2012
Native American Sustainable Housing InitiativeUniversity of Colorado Boulder - Volunteer - Internship
Instructor + Founder of NASHI Rob Pyatt
The University of ColoradoMountain Research Station
A project in two parts. The first: a small shelter to house researchers for short stays at the Mountain Research
Station (MRS) on Niwot Ridge near Nederland, CO. The second: a larger, net-zero energy cabin, designed to
house senior faculty members at the MRS.
The design goals of the two MRS cabins had many overlaps inspite of their programatic differences. These cabins were designed to celebrate simplici-
ty, maintain a sense of privacy within a small space, exercise energy preservation through the implementation of passive active systems, and to
retain a connection to the site.
CUs Mountain Research Station is located near Niwot Ridge, just outside of Nederland, CO. The MRS site is is highly sloped, just below treeline,
and the location of dozens of short term residenc-es for researchers all year long. The MRS faculty has been in need of new updated housing for the
many researchers they have to turn down each year.
The Mountain Research Station
The Univeristy of Colorados Mountain Research Station is a research facility dedicated to developing a better understand-ing of the unique natural patterns of the alpine environment. The MRS is designed to suit both research and education of
these mountain systems all year round.
The station fits snuggly among conifers, lodgepoles, and aspens on Niwot Ridge reaching from sub-alpine to alpine elevations around 9,500 ft. This site is a dry alpine and
sub-alpine environment with nearly 80% of annual precipita-tion falling as snow. In the Summer months the station swings between around 80F during the day to almost freezing at night. In the Winter, highs rarely break 40F.
Our goal as designers is to use the sites natural systems to our benefit.
Boulder Land Consultants, Inc.
Jay CabinBuilt in 1927, Jay Cabin is one of the dozens of existing structures used as shelters for seasonal researchers at CUs Mountain Research Station.
Since 1927 the cabin has had a series of updates including a stove, insulation, and most recently, a
tin roof.Jay Cabin was constucted using standard timber
framing, on a stacked rock foundation.
Mathesons CabinThis small shelter was designed as a contemporary alternative to the original researcher cabins that are
slowly deteriorating around the MRS. Mathesons cabin was designed with the vision of maintianing the vernacu-lar aesthetic and size, while improving the quality of that
space.Mathesons Cabin acheives this through a simplified
program that takes advantage of the sites natural beauty and bounty of light.
1. Bunk Beds2. Closet/Shoe Storage3. Cabinet Storage4. Porch
Net Zero CabinThis cabin was designed with functionality first. By
using both passive systems; which harness the power of the natural environment to conserve
energy use, and efficient active systems; such as a whole house fan and a photovoltaic array, this
senior researcher cabin was designed to produce as much energy as it consumed over the course of
one year.Each element of this habitat was placed with the
purpose of energy conservation, specifically designed to thrive in the alpine climate. This
cabin would not only act as a living laboratory, but would be used as a teaching tool for visitors
to the MRS.
Nevin Platt Middle School Solar Hearth
The Nevin Platt Solar Hearth is a response to the middle schools need for a platform to educate students about the power of the Sun and the many ways in which that power can be used. This stations focus is to provide a
space for solar powered cooking and education.
A small class of CU Architecture students set out to design and build an outdoor classroom with the
basis of circiculum on the power of energy consumption, conservation, and specifically, the
power of the sun.
Designs were infromed by visits to the school, q+a sessions with teachers, and interaction with the
Nevin Platt Middle School is located in Eastern Boulder, CO. The Solar Hearth was planned to be located within the inner courtyard of the school, a
location that provides a great deal of solar exposure, a key element of the hearths design.
The educators at Nevin Platt requested this project as a way to introduce students to the value of
Tests on the strength of com-pressed earth blocks made from
local soil. A variety of the regions native plants were used as a natural aggregate in each of these blocks. This CEB uses
pods collected from Honey Locust trees around Boulder, CO
Two rammed-earth monoliths will line stand on each side of the Solar Hearth. During the day, the walls will soak up the heat of the sun, display-ing the power of thermal-mass.
For the base of the Solar Hearth, a single flange beam, sized to be transported through the schools halls. The flange will act as a small garden, where students will use grey water to grow various plants.
The structure of the Solar Hearth will rely on four concrete piers. Ease of construction and acces-ability of materials make this foundation system the optimal choice for the Solar Hearth.
The Native American SustainableHousing Initiative
An interdisciplinary service learning program designed to spread confidence and understanding across cultures. NASHI harnesses the power of people and of place to
inform design, and is based on the foundation of improv-ing quality of life.
A team comprising of students from CU Boulders College of Environmental Design, Pine Ridge
Indian Reservations Oglala Lakota College, and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
designed four energy efficient homes on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservaton. The houses would act as living laboratories, designed with an emphasis on passive systems for energy conservation, construct-
ed using local labor and materials, and finally monitored using integrated data acquisition
systems (DAS) to track energy use and air quality.
The four homes designed by NASHI were planned to be built in Shannon County on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Pine Ridge is home to the
Oglala Lakota, a tribe that has faced many community challenges since the beginnings of
settlement in the United States.
Unemployment rate is at a staggering 80%, and average annual income is reported below $3,000. At the root of all these issues is land ownership
and the availability of affordable housing.
World Health OrganizationLife Expectancy - Men
2013 New York Times Median Annual Houshold Income $ 52,100.00
US Bureau of Labor StatisticsUnemployment Rate 7.6%
US Census Bureau People Per Housing Unit 2.3
US Census Bureau % of Mobile Homes
National Center for Healthy Housing% Substandard Homes 1.8%
Mint.com % of Annual Income Spent on Utilities 3.7%
Rural Community Assistance PartnershipHomes Lacking Basic Water
US Census BureauPoverty Rate 15.9%
US Census BureauAverage Age 36.8 years
World Health OrganizationLife Expectancy - Women
Average for All Other US CountiesPine Ridge
59%of homes aresubstandard
26%of houses are mobilehomes with negative value equity
4,00033%of homes lack basicwater and sewagesystems
60%of homes may lackproper insulation
Pine RidgeIndian Reservation
new homes are needed to combat homelessness
1. Dining Room2. Kitchen3. Covered Porch Entry4. Entry5. Hallway6. Living room7. Laundry & Storage8. ADA Bathroom9. Mechanical Room10. Closet Storage11. Bedroom 112. Bedroom 2
Straw Bale HousePrototype 1
The Straw Bale House was the first of 4 prototypes built by students on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the Summer of 2012. The purpose of these prototypes was to inform the future of construction on the reservation by acting as living laboratories.
These homes would be used to spread awareness of sustainable design and construction methods. They would educate students, local and otherwise, of the broader choices in housing.
Net-Zero Energy Design
DHW electric operating loadsremaining electric loads to
HVAC electric operating loads
insulation + passive strategies
high efficiency appliances + systems
54% load reduction